EAST LAKE — East Lake coach Bob Hudson wanted his team to use its preseason game against Manatee to gauge its offseason progress.
The Eagles learned they have work to do to play with one of the country’s best as the Hurricanes took a 14-0 lead Friday and never looked back en route to a 38-7 victory.
“We played a really good football team tonight,” Hudson said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country, and we probably won’t see a team like that until playoff time. We have played Plant and Dr. Phillips, and that team over there is just as good as them.”
Manatee opened the game driving the ball but East Lake’s Hunter Snyder intercepted a screen pass to end the drive. The Eagles went three and out and on the punt attempt the snap was low. The punter was tackled and Manatee capitalized. Seven straight running plays later Trevon Walters scored from 3 yards out.
East Lake tried to respond but a dropped pass forced the Eagles to punt. Manatee chewed up big chunks of yardage and took a 14-0 lead on a Marquel Hines reception from Josh Meyer.
The Eagles fought back in the second quarter. Artavis Scott got behind the defense and hauled in a 48-yard pass from Jake Hudson. Daniel LaCamera followed with the point after to close the gap to 14-7.
The Eagles were their own worst enemy. They lost two fumbles, threw an interception and continued to have trouble sustaining drives. East Lake also gave the Hurricanes good field position on multiple occasions.
“After playing them we have the confidence we can play with any team in the country,” Eagles tackle Mason Cole said. “We have to continue to work hard and learn from this.”
East Lake opens its regular season next week with a game against crosstown rival Palm Harbor University.